I’m torn between moving up the ladder in a new role and working for a manager not known to promote or staying put with an amazing and supportive manager.

I’m torn between moving up the ladder in a new role and working for a manager not known to promote or staying put with an amazing and supportive manager.
Q.  I need your opinion on a potential promotion. I am part of a unit of 4 teams and am being considered for a promotion in a supervisory role. I am very lucky to have a wonderful manager who has supported my growth and development throughout my time with the company. This supervisor role does not become available often and has been a professional goal of mine. I would no longer be reporting to my manager and would move to a new manager supervising a new team. This new manager is known to be less supportive and doesn’t seem to try to help his people get promoted or offer them development opportunities. My question is, do I take this role if offered to me? And how can I make sure this manager doesn’t hold me back professionally?

A. Congratulations on your being considered for a promotion. Your current manager has clearly done an exceptional job in preparing you for the increase in responsibility and developing the skillset that is needed in this supervisory role. Did you miss the day your manager tried to give you confidence? It seems you and your manager had a shared goal – to get you the opportunity to become a supervisor. Based on what you’ve explained, it seems like you are currently in the stage of change where you fear both the known and the unknown.

One of the first things that you can do is ask your manager for advice about working for a manager who has developed a reputation for “not being supportive”. Learning how to work with people who may not be easy to work with or for is part of your own professional development as you climb the ladder. That preparation will help you avoid any derailing that this new manager might cause you to experience. Having both a manager and a mentor, the mentor being your previous manager, may be a great way to make this a successful transition.

Waiting for a “good manager” to come along will limit your professional growth. It could be a very long wait. And don’t let your fear leave you behind. You want to start by asking your new manager questions as you continue to interview for the new job and once you start the new role. What does this new manager expect in terms of goals and performance? What do they want to see? When are they happiest with a direct report? When are they the least happy with a direct report? The more you can align your understanding with what their demands and expectations are, the better off you’ll be.

Create a regular schedule of communication with this new manager, especially early on, so that there are no surprises in terms of what this manager wants to see and expectations about your deliverables, while you’re learning what makes this person tick. It would be great if all managers were as talented and supportive as your current manager, but the unfortunate truth is that’s not the reality. Perhaps having a direct report like you will help this manager become stronger.

Review the history of people who have worked for this person and see where they’ve gone. Has anyone ever been promoted away from this role? If so, it would be great to find out how that happened. If not, it would be great to find out why that didn’t happen. You’ve done a nice job so far of having goals and achieving them. If the new role aligns with your career goals, what would stop you from taking the risk, which all changes are, as it may lead to even more advancement opportunities. Make sure you have a realistic goal and time frame for achieving them in this situation as well. It sounds like you have all the hard and soft skills to make this a successful transition. And make sure that this transition and promotion will include a nice salary boost to offset the fear factor.

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